Were Herring’s Last Actions as AG Racist?

by James A. Bacon

Attorney General Mark Herring wound up his last day in office today with an announcement that he is holding three more gas stations “accountable” for alleged price gouging during the Colonial Pipeline emergency in the spring of 2021, bringing the total to six enforcement actions.

As I noted in a previous post, it seemed to be a curious coincidence that of the  4,000 or so gas stations in Virginia (a decade-old figure), the three that had been charged in November for jacking up prices during the gasoline shortage stemming from the Colonial Pipeline shutdown all had Asian proprietors. It turns out that the latest three enforcement actions target Asian proprietors, too. Here’s the list of all six (business name — proprietor name):

  • 7HC — Eltam Salem
  • Tahir and Sons LLC — Tahir Mahmoud
  • RIR Mart Exxon (Saly Inc.) — Balwinder Singh
  • Shivoham Inc. — Hemali Patel
  • George Mason LLC — Philip Chung
  • Shriji Maharaj LLC — Nashib Patel

No other gas stations owners have been fined for the Colonial Pipeline crisis. Not. One. White. Gas. Station. Owner.

There are two ways to look at this anomaly.

Here is the first: there are some 4,000 gas station owners in Virginia. Herring’s enforcement actions clearly had a “disparate impact” against small business owners of Asian extraction. A disparate impact of this magnitude suggests that Herring and/or his minions might have singled out Asian proprietors in a discriminatory manner. If conscious discrimination cannot be proven, the lopsided nature of the statistics demonstrates “institutional racism.” Judging by its impact, the price-gouging law itself is racist, regardless of its legislative intent.

If we accept the logic of “disparate impact” and “structural racism,” then the price-gouging law should be repealed and Herring admonished for his relentless, racist persecution of Asian businessmen.

Here is a second perspective: Herring prosecuted six Asian proprietors and zero White gas-station proprietors because the gas stations that raised prices most aggressively during the fuel shortage … were owned by Asian proprietors. In other words, the disparity reflects not the “racism” of the prosecutors or the law, but the behavior of the gas station owners.

By way of explanation, one might conjecture that Asian immigrants come from commercial cultures that differ from that of the United States. Perhaps they bring with them the ethic of the souk or bazaar, in which the American idea of “fair” prices does not exist. Prices are set by negotiation and haggling, and merchants take full advantage of scarcity in order to raise prices and increase profits when they can. The American idea of “price gouging” is alien to them, and when the opportunity arises, some Asian immigrants raise prices because they can.

By the “disparate impact” logic that Herring and his ideological soul mates apply in other contexts, usually involving African Americans, Herring’s enforcement actions are racist. He is enforcing a law that “criminalizes” deviation from White cultural values embedded in the price-gouging law.

To be clear, I personally regard “disparate impact” as a fraudulent concept that invites zealots to cherry-pick data in search of racism where it doesn’t really exist. But the notion of “disparate impact” is not a legal standard that Herring can apply willy-nilly when it suits him and ignore when it doesn’t. He should be judged by his own standard, and by that standard, he’s a racist.

Good riddance.

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20 responses to “Were Herring’s Last Actions as AG Racist?”

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Germane too, especially since James is implying that disparate impact implies disparate treatment, a position counter to his positions on, oh say, education and just about everything else.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      this is informative. JAB should read it. Thanks for posting!

  1. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Who copied who? Herring or the TJ admissions people… Dems hate Asians!

  2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    What percentage of the 4000 gas stations in VA are owned by Asians?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Clearly, what we have here is a failure to recognize the difference between “if-then” and “iff”

  3. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    I wonder if St Sen Saslaw agrees with this stuff, I believe he used to run stations. Seems questionable to me.

  4. The most disappointing ag in recent memory

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Here is what Herring claims as his accomplishments:

    We completely eliminated Virginia’s rape kit backlog and transformed how Virginia works to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence.

    We legalized cannabis.

    We gave DREAMers a shot at an affordable education here in Virginia.

    We protected LGBT Virginians from discrimination.

    We protected Virginians’ healthcare from constant attack by Republicans.

    We protected reproductive rights and access to the full range of healthcare services women need.

    We recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for Virginia consumers who had been ripped off by unscrupulous business.

    We led the fight against the opioid crisis and sued the big pharma companies that helped create and prolong it.

    We created Virginia’s first Worker Protection Unit and first permanent Office of Civil Rights, and did groundbreaking work.

    We launched an investigation into clergy abuse in Virginia.

    We led the nation in the effort to get the Equal Rights Amendment recognized and sued to block Trump’s Muslim ban.

    We protected the very foundations of our democracy against relentless attack by the Trump administration.

    We passed new laws to prevent gun violence, like one gun a month, expanded background checks, a red flag law, and we successfully defended all those in court.

    And I could go on and on—we brought the first lawsuit against a law enforcement agency for discriminatory conduct.

    We did the first investigation into racial discrimination in a school district.

    We’ve taken down Confederate propaganda, defended the Chesapeake Bay, supported the push for clean energy and on and on.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wait! Didn’t Abraham Lincoln debate Frederick Douglas on this very issue? What say ye, Wren Williams?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      In a very unusual move, Division of Legislative Services has publicly taken responsibility for the Lincoln-Douglas cross up in the bill text. See, little secret, none of these legislators could write a bill on a bet, not really. Maybe a paragraph or two. DLS works them up from notes, often pretty rough. Maybe they are covering for the delegate, but I’ve never seen that done before.

      However for the rest of his life the Nancy Boy’s will ride him on this. Hey, he dumped one of my friends out in a primary, so I have no sympathy for him. But perhaps not guilty.

      As to the “accomplishment list,” wow — the actual job of AG is to be the state’s lawyer, keeping agencies in compliance with law, preventing or defending lawsuits, also defending criminal convictions through the appeals process. That stuff is political crap, not the actual job. Which is one reason he lost.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        BTW, but of course they took the blame. It stretches credulity that the same error would appear in legislation introduced in a half dozen different States if not a mill error. But then,… GOP.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        I guess one might say that Herring was more “activist” than the job called for? 😉

      3. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Yeah, but a “CRT” based History course would prevent that kind of screw up.

        “However for the rest of his life the Nancy Boy’s will ride him on this. Hey, he dumped one of my friends out in a primary, so I have no sympathy for him. ”

        Welcome to the Nancy Boys. Your reason is not part of the evaluation process.

      4. vicnicholls Avatar

        Tim Anderson writes his own bills.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Gosh, Jim. Thanks so much for educating us about what a “souk” is. BTW, have you ever been in the Middle East, in Asia or in a souk?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Peter: I can say yes! 🙂 Was too young to really enjoy it, but we did the market in Izmir often and Tripoli before that. Strong memories of Izmir. Really wanted to try the street food that smelled so good, but my parents wouldn’t allow.

      Nancy: If the same error appears in similar bills in other states, that is an interesting wrinkle! Show me.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Herring had no problems sending this equity investigation notice to Loudoun School Board. Yet he could not muster up the courage to investigate the dual sexual assaults and the disgraceful coverup by Superintendent Ziegler. Less than three hours to go for the shameful gang that has run the Commonwealth for the last 4 years.

  9. tmtfairfax Avatar

    Judged by normal and reasonable standards, the answer is “no.” Judged by the standards of the Woke, the answer is “yes.”

  10. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    He also reached a settlement in a housing discrimination suit that he had brought against several major apartment owners in the Richmond area. One needs to look at the whole record.

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